How to Move Your Entire Sales Process Online & Reach Car Buyers at Home

By Canada Drives Newsroom | Dealer Services

No industry has been as resilient as the automotive industry. Through thick and thin, one thing remains constant. Customers need to buy cars. The need to replace vehicles overrides tough economic times. It’s also one of the driving forces in the economy, and it softens the edges of a downturn.

With the current challenges facing the auto retail industry, the average consumer is more likely than ever to find their solution online. 

Think With Google reported that 19 of 20 car shoppers used digital as a source of information on their buying journey. The same report described how 40% of shoppers who watched vehicle videos visited a dealership as a direct result. 

Every dealership has a website, but a strong digital presence is absolutely crucial. If you haven’t already done it, now’s the time to think about how you can leverage and enhance your digital store while social distancing and quarantine are in effect. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a few considerations to speed you along. 

Leverage your digital strengths to power your ‘Buy From Home’ program

The internet has come a long way thanks to the always-improving user experience, higher quality content, and growing trust in online business. More and more Canadians are confident about making large purchases on their laptop, tablet, or smartphone. And with the coronavirus outbreak eliminating walk-in traffic, it’s more important than ever for dealerships to leverage digital channels in ways that solve real pain points and address modern anxieties.

The ‘Buy From Home’ model is possible thanks to today’s digital experience. It lets customers peruse a dealership’s inventory online and all but commit to a vehicle without even leaving their homes. 

A few tips for the ‘Buy From Home’ model: 

  • Ensure the process can be completed start to finish outside the dealership’s walls. Even the inconvenience of a single visit to the dealership could be a deal-breaker. 
  • Keep them invested with a pre-approval. Not only does a pre-approval give you the confidence that it’s a strong lead, but it also gives the shopper confidence to make a purchase.
  • Meet the shopper with their potential vehicle where it’s convenient for them. Remember, if they’re engaged with you in the process, it’s highly unlikely they’re shopping elsewhere simultaneously.
  • Offer overnight test drives. Put them on a dealer plate and take their trade-in back to the lot for an appraisal. 
  • Deliver the paperwork to the customer with the vehicle once they agree to the purchase.
  • Be mindful of sterilization best practices. Everything that is regularly touched or handled in the car (steering wheel, door handles, etc) should be routinely wiped down and disinfected. 

How to optimize your website for remote car-buying

In order for your Buy From Home program to self-actualize, you need to ensure that your website is set up for success. Here are a few considerations. 

  1. High-quality VDPs

  2. Vehicle Description Pages (VDPs) are the individual listings for each VIN number you have on the ground or imminently coming. VDPs comprehensively list a vehicle’s features according to the build so shoppers know specifically what that car contains. 

    Some dealers prefer to keep VDPs generic. It truly is a lot of work to keep them updated when a new vehicle arrives, or another vehicle sells. But customers are more likely to develop an attachment to a vehicle based on the quality of the VDP, and the best description pages have write-ups that delve into the features and benefits and use powerful language, not bland bullet points or a blurb that’s clearly copy-and-pasted. VDPs also obviously benefit from high-quality visuals (video & images) of the actual unit, not stock photos from the manufacturer’s site.

    If your VDPs are detailed, constructed with clear language and a conversational tone, and updated regularly, you’re in better shape than most. If your VDPs need some work, you’ll see the value in it quickly. 

    • You’ll get fewer emails or calls asking, “Does this car have Apple CarPlay?” or “Does it have heated seats?”
    • The shopper will contact you further into the sales funnel, either ready or close or ready to take a step toward seeing the car in person.
  3. Compelling online copy

  4. Like descriptions in VDPs, the words on your website and communications are a big deal. When a customer reads a blog on your website, the store’s history, the services their car requires, or the details of the car, it should sound like they’re hearing words out of a person’s mouth. Readability is a huge factor for car buyers when they’re researching online. 

    Stores that have put their online content as a priority are ready to reap the rewards. Not only is there opportunity to build strong keywords into your content but you can provide trusted, valuable resources for your customers. 

    If your online copy is lacking, you can:

    • Flesh out your landing pages with localized content that will be crawled and indexed by browsers. This will help your store in search rankings.
    • Add blog content for your dealership across all departments. Model comparisons, service information, industry news. This will all add value for shoppers and boost your online presence.
    • Consistently refresh content. Change landing page content seasonally to be relevant to the right time of the year.
  5. Focused lead generation

  6. It’s known as the Call To Action or CTA. Some dealers are phenomenal at commanding a response from their customers whether for a promotion, an event, a recall, or a visit by a local sports celebrity. Whenever a customer provides their information in exchange for something they expect from you, it’s considered a lead. 

    For CTAs to be successful, they need to either be really enticing to the reader or subtly compelling. 

    • Offer calls to action on everything you post. On a VDP, it may be a phrase like, “For more details or to arrange a no-strings-attached test drive, email [email protected]
    • “Message us today for a trade-in price for your current car,” can be a big attractant. 
    • For subprime leads, “Find out what you’re eligible for,” can attract valuable prospects.

How to keep profits steady when walk-in traffic disappears

With the government understandably asking Canadians to stay indoors during this viral outbreak, you’ll find that walk-in traffic is in short supply. Your dealership may even close its doors as a containment measure. But that doesn’t mean customers are unreachable. 

So reach them online!

If you’ve already invested in your dealership’s digital positioning, congratulations because you’ve got a clear head start on the competition. But whether you have a formidable online presence or not, you can drive more high-intent customers to your website inventory by outsourcing your company’s digital outreach efforts.

With Canada Drives’ innovative marketing expertise and tech-savvy methods, you can leverage our digital strengths to attract more leads and sell more cars. Speak to one of our account managers today to discuss how we can deliver customers when walk-in traffic has dried up. 

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